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The Demands of Good Men

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This was quite the motley crew that Dorian found himself joining. Sure it was all for a good cause, save the world, kill an Archdemon, try and exonerate his country as best he could, blah blah blah. But the company the Inquisitor kept!

Solas was an alright sort, if not strange. Vivienne was an utter bitch which was why Dorian found himself sipping wine with her often and making catty remarks about Ferelden fashion (or lack thereof). Sera was mad as a sackful of cats though rather fun in her own way, when she wasn’t talking about using his ‘Tevinter arse as a pincushion’. Varric was someone Dorian could listen to for hours on end, however the chest hair was terribly distracting. Cole was—well, Dorian was wary of him, not just for the fact that he was some sort of Fade being but also because he continually blurted out whatever someone near him might be thinking which proved quite embarrassing. Cassandra glared at him at every turn but Dorian became used to it when he realized she did that with everyone (especially Varric). Blackwall was as interesting to Dorian as the color grey, a fact that was at least amusing in its own right.

But then—then there was the Bull.

All the rabble Beatrix surrounded herself with Dorian could stomach, Void, even find something he liked about them. But Iron Bull?

Never mind that he was qunari, the people who had been attacking and killing Dorian’s countrymen for centuries now. That alone would be an unredeemable trait on its own but no, no Bull was more than just a qunari. He was also loud, brash, sweaty, smelly, unapologetic, crass, deviant and utterly obnoxious. Dorian muttered about wanting to throw a fireball at his head more than once and Bull would just laugh at him and make some dirty remark about splitting Dorian on his sword in return. Beatrix would intervene at that point and Dorian would stomp off in a huff, cheeks burning. Bull would laugh louder and then apologize to his ‘boss’ as she shook her head at him fondly.

“I hope—“ Dorian began in the spirit of diplomacy or what little of that ideal he could muster up, “—it doesn’t bother you to travel alongside a ‘vint’, Iron Bull…”

The qunari glances over his shoulder at the mage with his one good eye, the giant metal thing he was using to turn their adversaries into wet red stains on the ground held up against his other arm.

“That what you are? You people all kinda look the same to me,” The Bull replies, falling into step beside Dorian, mostly to avoid Sera and Beatrix playing with jars of something that was humming angrily.

Dorian snorts, wondering if Bull was really that stupid or making an actually clever comment—after all, his people thought the ‘ox-men’ all looked alike. “I’m also a mage,” he adds, eyes thinning. “Would you prefer me bound and leashed?” Dorian asks, nose tipped up as he walked a pace ahead.

Bull lets him and Dorian can hear the smirk as he replies, “I’d buy you dinner first.”

It is years of social graces and etiquette that keep Dorian from tripping over his own robes. He has to take a fortifying breath, glaring back at Bull while the bigger man grins shamelessly.

“Hopefully before you sewed my mouth shut,” is Dorian’s prim reply, before he hurries ahead. Or tries to, anyways. Bull puts his hand on Dorian’s shoulder to stop him and the Tevinter freezes, a spell on his lips—

Bull points ahead where Sera and Beatrix are screeching. There’s a broken jar between them and a horde of angry—are those bees?! –insects chasing the two women all the way to the lake where they both jump in and take cover.

Bull laughs, lets go of Dorian. “And that last bit depends on how much you keep yapping,” he says and walks ahead to rescue the girls from the stinging insects.

Dorian stays back, surprised by the fact that the qunari didn’t just let him walk into a cloud of bees. Dorian’s behavior certainly warranted such comeuppance. No. Suspicious, he corrects himself. Not surprising. Not at all.

It’s a few days later that Dorian dares to continue the conversation. They’re on the Storm Coast and Dorian’s robes are soaked through with rainwater. The scent of the ocean waves crashing is enough to make him seasick. Bull, on the other hand, looks completely in his element, smiling into the salty air with his eye shut.

Dorian’s mostly pissed off that Bull looks so happy while he feels so miserable.

“Nothing at all, Bull?” he asks, breaking the qunari’s reverie and getting that eye turned on him again. “No trouble having a ‘vint behind you?”

Bull’s face splits in that telltale grin and Dorian’s eyes trace absentmindedly the rain that runs down the laugh lines in his face, trailing down the thick column of his neck.

“Hope you like the view,” he replies easily and Dorian rolls his eyes in response, looks away disdainfully.

“You can’t deny you enjoy butchering my people,” Dorian responds and they’re falling into step again. Beatrix and Cole are ahead, the former chatting happily to the latter about all sorts of things. Cole’s smiling under his hat which might be adorable if the… whatever Cole is… wasn’t so creepy at the outset.

“Hey…” Bull sounds almost wounded but he’s still smiling. Dorian wants to punch him if he wasn’t certain it would hurt his own hand. “Butchering implies I’m gonna eat ‘em. Most ‘vints are just gristle and fat in a red wine marinade.”

A laugh bursts from Dorian’s lips before he can stop it. “Well, that much is true…” he admits and Bull winks at him and Dorian wonders if he knows how ridiculous that looks with one eye.

It’s almost as ridiculous as Bea wearing Cole’s hat while he puts on her cowl. The blond looks confused at first, like he’s wondering why it is so funny. Then a laugh is startled from young spirit when the Herald of Andraste pretends to sneak from the shadows to jump on Bull’s back and ‘assassinate’ him with a pair of twigs. Dorian’s laughing too, they all are and for a moment he feels perfectly comfortable despite being soaked to his smalls with freezing rainwater.

That first laugh Bull gets from him is a prelude to others. Mostly they get on each other’s nerves and the Inquisitor has to chide them to ‘play nice’ but it’s all in good fun. Even when Dorian accidentally sends a patch of ice in front of Bull’s foot or Bull puts Dorian’s staff up on his horns so that the mage has to jump for it and curse up a storm as Bull stops him with a hand on his head.

They even manage to talk normally, sometimes. Bull’s more traveled than Dorian had thought and he knows a bit about Tevinter as well. They talked about that one place in Minrathous with the dancers and Dorian laughs at Bull’s story about how a very pretty one of those performers overlooked a magister for Bull’s favor. “I wish I could have been there to see that,” he said and meant it, shockingly enough.

It is, of course, too good to last. They’re climbing over some bloody big rocks in the Hinterlands and Dorian’s swearing in a way that would turn even one of the Chargers scarlet, feet scuffling against the stone. He’s surprised Bull isn’t ahead of all of them, he certainly has the upper body strength for this nonsense. Not that Dorian has noticed or anything.

“Better hike up your skirt, mage boy,” Bull rumbles and Dorian scowls, turns his nose up at the offered hand.

“I’m not wearing a skirt!” he hisses in response. He’s sweaty and rumpled and dirty and not in the mood for Bull’s nonsense.

The qunari snorts—“You trip on that bustling whatever, don’t come crying to me.”

Dorian cusses at him in Tevene and makes a point of clambering ahead of Bull even though it means digging his fingers into mossy stone and getting grit under his nails.

A sharp smack echoes in the canyon and Dorian gasps, looking over his shoulder where Iron Bull still has his hand guiltily on Dorian’s rump.

“What? I’m trying to motivate you to keep moving!” the qunari says and no amount of Ben-Hassrath training could make that face look innocent.

“Vishante kaffas— unhand me you lummox!” he says but the ‘motivation’ works and he’s up and over the hill quickly, joining Beatrix and Cole on the other side.

“You and Bull playing nice?” Beatrix asks, blinking at Dorian who knows he’s red-faced and huffing from his exertions among other things.

“Pain blossoms through him, but it isn’t all pain, it burns but doesn’t hurt, not like it should. It excites and it reminds of what is different and what is the same. Are there degrees of disappointment? Of depravity? He doesn’t know and it scares. It terrifies and tantalizes and ties him…” Cole rattles off, big eyes sympathetic.

“Fasta vass!—yes we are quite fine. Buddy-buddy. Joined at the hip, even!” Dorian declares loudly before Cole can say anything further on the matter.

“Joined at the hip? You’d think you’d buy a guy a drink first at least…” Iron Bull slides down to meet them in the valley just in time, smirking in that self-satisfied way that Dorian really hates. Dorian curses at him in response and Bull’s grin widens.

Beatrix laughs a little, shaking her head. “You two are so cute when you’re flirting,” she says and Dorian pales until he realizes she’s joking. “Come on, help me set up camp, Bull. Dorian, you mind sending up a signal so they can bring the wagons around?”

Dorian happily throws a hand up in the air, shooting a fireball off in the sky before going to stomp off and burn things.

Later that night, the two of them are the very definition of thinly veiled hostility. Bull’s not acting any different really, but Dorian is showing his irritation quite plainly. He curls his knees up to his chest, staying close the firelight.

“Why is it always so cold? How do you southerners stand it?” Dorian complains through chattering teeth. It probably doesn’t help that his shoulder is bared thanks to his Tevinter-made robes. The question is to Beatrix, but she doesn’t hear him because requisition officer is asking her to sign off on something.

“What’s the matter?” Bull asks, fingers and mouth greasy from the fried druffalo meat (the result of Dorian’s fit of burning everything he could find). “Not enough slaves around to rub your footsies?”

Dorian curls his lip in a sneer of disdain. “My footsies are freezing, thank you!” he snaps in response and huddles closer to the fire. Bull chuckles and continues eating, the sound disgusting as he sucks grease from each finger. Bull then leaves the firelight with a belch of satisfaction to head towards the tents.

Dorian has almost completely tuned everything out when something heavy falls onto his shoulders. It’s a rough, homespun blanket and it smells musky but it is warm. Dorian instinctively pulls it around him like a cocoon.

“…thank you.” he says and it’s genuine because he’s not a completely thankless arse.

“Ain’t gonna rub your feet though, ‘vint,” Bull says and then adds, “Get some sleep, Dorian.”

Dorian waves Bull off with a flick of a well-manicured (though now somewhat mossy) hand. Bull snorts and lumbers off.

The next time they have occasion to talk is in Skyhold. Dorian vacated the library because Mother Giselle decided to take residence and she always seems to stare at him with such distaste. Normally he wouldn’t be bothered, would even happily be drawn into confrontation—but it is a very clear day and reading out of doors is not entirely out of the question.

So he sits up on the ramparts, balancing a book on his ringed fingers, his other hand bringing a raspberry to his lips. They’re scarce and sweet and so he’s trying to savor them as he turns the page.

“They finally kicked you out of the tower then?”

Dorian very nearly falls off the ramparts at the low rumble of Bull’s voice. With quicker reflexes than one would think someone of Bull’s size would have, he catches Dorian around the waist and tugs him back before he goes tumbling.

The breath goes out of Dorian’s lungs as he’s pulled against a very wide, grey chest. And he’s surprised because Bull’s skin doesn’t feel like he thought a qunari’s would—like tempered steel or rough stone. It’s soft over the firmness of his muscles. It’s—

Dorian jerks away, face hot. “I wasn’t kicked out, I merely wanted to get some air.”

Bull has saved the bowl of raspberries as well, munching on them without restraint as Dorian balks. “Uh-huh. Because you and cold southern air get along so well.”

“I’m adapting. What are you doing out here? Run out of ale at the tavern, did they?” Dorian retorts, reaching to snag the bowl back but Bull’s a two year old at heart apparently and it is easily pulled out of his reach.

“How would you know if they did? Pretty sure you about-faced outta there the second you heard that dwarf tell you the wine selection was limited to ‘the red stuff and the white stuff’,” Bull says with that big boisterous laugh of his.

Dorian marks the page in his book and shuts it, chuckling as well. “I’ve faced so many demons and deranged mages and crazed Templars with lyrium growing out of their everything—and I can tell you with no uncertainty that that situation terrified me.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it, Dorian. Viv’s—I mean, Madam Vivienne—is getting some better wine in from Orlais. Maybe even some ‘vint’-age stuff,” Bull says with another stupid one-eyed wink that was not charming at all.

“That was a horrible joke. But it’s so very kind of Vivienne to think of such an insignificant person as myself while she’s sitting in that ivory tower of hers.” Dorian states, looking towards the main hall. Vivienne was, of course, haunting the upper balcony as per usual. Bitch. Nobody lectured her, save maybe the Inquisitor on occasion.

“I mighta mentioned the whole incident to her in passing…” Bull explains carefully, finally putting the bowl (now half-empty) between them. Dorian is surprised by both gestures and unsure of what to say.

“I see,” he manages. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it, Dorian. Man needs his drink—even if it is froofy,” Bull declares, earning another roll of eyes from Dorian. He pops a final berry between those scar-slashed lips and adds in a low voice, “Sides… something sweet isn’t too bad every once in a while.”

He’s looking right at Dorian as he speaks. Dorian knows that tone and his face burns. Of course Bull’s gotten a read on him already. Not that Dorian tries to hide it but he does flirt happily with Beatrix and she flirts back just as eagerly. It’s a good cover considering he’s more interested in eyeing the commander and Cullen seems to be trying to find more and more reasons to be around their lady Inquisitor.

Whatever denial he’s thought of, Bull’s gone before he can issue it. Dorian sighs, both parts relieved and worried, rubbing at the back of his neck.

It’s difficult to sleep at night in the south. The cold is biting, worse in Skyhold. Even when Dorian keeps the fire in the grate lit magically, tries to keep it roaring—it really doesn’t matter. He’s burrowed in comforters and blankets and has managed nothing other to make himself shivering and sweating.

And there’s not just the cold. The loneliness gets to him too. But that is no different than it was in Tevinter, really.

Sure, he had managed to have a lot more… encounters back home… but they were brief and discreet and Dorian would leave quickly. Or they would leave. Always, someone would go and not take a second look back. It was how it had to be. It was one of the many reasons Dorian couldn’t stand being there.

Right now he is not in Tevinter, however. Dorian kicks off the pile of blankets, stretching out on the bed and staring into the fire with an arm pillowed behind his head. He’s not. He could, if he wanted…

His fingertips skitter over his sleeping shirt. It’s rucked up a little with his fitful rest, his fingertip swirling around his own navel. Heat building in him and without a touch of magic. Always fascinating.

Dorian considers some old paramours, but the memories have dulled considerably. Instead, the commander comes to mind. Yes, Cullen would do nicely. So clean-cut and perfect, muscular and blond. Dorian imagines what it would be like, pinned underneath the proud, strong man and his hawk-like amber eyes. Dorian’s fingers slip under his pajamas, under his smalls as he strokes himself.

The commander wouldn’t relent, he’d take and take until he was satisfied. And Dorian would love every moment of it, love being rocked into, the bedframe shaking. He would kiss Cullen’s mouth, licking at the scar that split it at the corner. Licking that one and… and the other one too… and feeling a rough unshaven face grind against his own, feel blunt teeth with slightly pointed canines tear at his mouth as he reaches helplessly upward, grasps a rough horn under his fingers as he’s fucked into the bed so hard he can hear the headboard crack and give under the qunari’s strength—

Dorian’s climax is shocked out of him by the image, spilling his seed over his navel. His arm is over his face now as he gulps for air, overwhelmed by it.

Drowsily he lifts his hand, drops still clinging to his fingers. Bull can never know about this, of that much Dorian is certain. And if he ever found out Dorian used him as wank material, well…

…it’s his own damn fault for not wearing a shirt.